Friday, February 12, 2016

A Visitor From Texas

We have had our first visitor come out to stay with us – my Mom! Before she came, I warned her that this would not be a luxurious vacation (no big comfy mattress, no T.V., no A/C…etc), but she would have a huge, beautiful pool (i.e. the sea) to jump into any time, and she’d get to island hop somewhere new every day. She said she was up for anything as long as she got to see us. Isn’t she sweet?!

Her travel day was the not the best. She was supposed to arrive in St. Thomas around 4 p.m., but there was a delay with her 7 a.m. flight due to something breaking on the plane and missed her connecting flight to Miami. The airline scheduled her on a flight to St. Croix that night, and then she would have another flight to St. Thomas early the next morning. There was no offer of a hotel, however, so we said she should go to the desk to ask if the St. Croix airport even stayed open for the night. Once she got to the counter, the man told her that they had one seat left on a flight leaving for St. Thomas in the next thirty minutes. He promptly put her on the flight, and she rushed to her gate. I was so happy to see her when she exited the airport terminal! Mom hugs are the best hugs!

The next day we left around 8 a.m. to check into the BVIs at Jost Van Dyke. There is a small, uninhabited island with a great beach called Sandy Cay that I wanted to take her to, but we couldn’t anchor there because the anchorage is exposed to high winds and would have been uncomfortable to stay overnight. We decided to anchor near Foxy’s Taboo and take the dinghy over, which was about a mile away. Bad idea! There were significant waves due to 20 knots of wind, and water drenched us every 5 seconds or so. I should have called it a failure a minute into the ride, but I really wanted to spend the day on this beach. I 100% thought (and this was purely on hopefulness) once we got to land things would be calmer. Well I was wrong. After suffering through a 10-15 minute ride with buckets of water being splashed in our faces, we finally got near the beach; only to discover that there was no way we could actually get to the beach with all of our bags, chairs, and umbrellas. The surf was way too rough. If the ride over wasn’t enough to warn me, there were definitely other clues, like the deserted beach and people on their boats watching us like we were crazy. That wasn’t the best way to introduce Mom to dinghy rides. Thankfully, the ride back was not nearly as bad. She was exhausted from the day before so we just stayed on the boat in an anchorage that we had all to ourselves.

Next up was Cane Garden Bay on the north side of Tortola, and we made the hop in just over an hour. This bay has a great beach lined with casual restaurants that don’t require shoes, shirts, or shorts for that matter. We ate at Rhymers where we enjoyed tropical drinks and some grub while watching pelicans dive bomb the water for their meal. We had never seen so many of them in one spot before. After setting up our chairs and umbrellas, David went back to the boat to get some work done, and Mom and I relaxed the day away with our toes in the sand.

We had planned on staying an additional day at CGB, but north winds brought big swells into the anchorage early in the morning causing our boat to see-saw up and down. The swell would hit the stern of the boat causing it to lift up steeply and then as it moved along to the bow, the stern would crash down. As it continued to shore, the bow would then crash down. If you can imagine that, then imagine cooking in that situation. Things fly all over the place while you try to remain balanced. Breakfast was definitely not happening so I handed out pre-made turkey sandwiches.

Boats everywhere in the bay were quickly making their departure, and so did we. As we left, we watched surfers riding six foot waves…not something we would expect to see in an anchorage!
We headed to Norman’s Island to anchor and took the dinghy over to the Indians for another snorkel adventure. Mom hadn’t been snorkeling in a few years so we did a quick tutorial at Norman’s before we headed off to snorkel in 50 or so feet of water. It was as beautiful as the first time!

As I mentioned in the last post, the true Norman’s Island experience should always include a stop at Willy T’s so we hopped aboard the bar/restaurant the next day after snorkeling the caves and having a drink at the Pirate’s Bight. There was some dancing, some jumping in the water, some nudity (not ours of course), some food, and of course some drinking. A great afternoon/night that might have resulted in a slight hangover the next day.


Notice the woman unhooking her top


We had to check out of the BVIs the following day so we made a quick trip to Soper’s Hole and then went to Cruz Bay on St. John’s to check in to the USVIs. We picked up a mooring ball at Caneel Bay for the night, devoured some pizza, and watched the rest of Guardians of the Galaxy….one of my all-time favorite movies.
Soper's Hole
The whole trip I had been trying to find Mom a perfect white sand beach with turquoise water, and it took until the end of the trip to get there. Caneel Bay is gorgeous!! It was my first time there, and it is one of those beaches that you can spend an entire week on and not get tired of. We spent the entire day there and went back the next day until we had to leave for St. Thomas.

Caneel Bay is now one of my favorite spots in this area. Super clear water, decent snorkeling from the beach, quiet and peaceful, a food/drink stand if you need anything, free hammocks, and all around great. We would be staying there right now, except for the mooring fee. It recently changed from $15 a night to $26, and it seems a little ridiculous to me that they almost doubled the fee.

After we got back to Red Hook in St. Thomas, we had dinner at Latitude 18 to celebrate Mom’s last night. We enjoyed delicious island food and listened to a very entertaining band with a fiddle called Sun Mountain Band. A great ending to a great visit!
I will say that not everything was hunky dory all the time. Mom had a tough time sleeping. It takes a while to get used to the noises that you hear on a boat. Some of the things you’ll hear are slapping halyards, random creaks, things rolling about (that stop making noise the minute you get up), waves lapping, loud music from nearby bars, and the dinghy bumping into the boat. Add in a rolly anchorage, and you can forget about a good night’s sleep. The dinghy can also be another obstacle for a landlubber. Anytime we want to go ashore means getting in the dinghy. Ever tried stepping into a moving dinghy from a moving boat? It isn’t easy. Also depending on the weather, we might have some wet rides on the way to town, which means dealing with wet clothes.

Thanks for being a trooper Mom and coming out to visit us!


  1. Wow! Monica is a real trooper!! She has our respect!! (Hope her return trip was smoother than the outbound.) Love y'all! John & Michelle
    P.S. We're missing your route/map updates. Can't see where all you've been for the past several weeks. :-(

    1. Her return trip went as planned, which was good. I'll get around to updating the map sooner or later...haven't really thought about it lately :) We love you two as well.